When you’re beginning a yoga practice, assembling your collection of props can feel really confusing. One essential purchase for everyone, though, is a yoga strap. Like all yoga props, it’s intended to act as an extension of your limbs, most frequently the arms, to allow you to reach farther and hold postures where you arms may not be long enough or your other body parts may not be flexible enough to make contact with your hands. And the best thing about props? There is absolutely zero stigma about using them, because even professional yogis rely on the same set of tools to help them balance, stretch, and protect their bodies. Here’s how Peloton Yoga instructors Aditi Shah and Kristin McGee use their straps to push their yoga practice forward.
Who should use a yoga strap?
Everyone! “Yoga props help us either to contain and set boundaries for ourselves or they act as extensions of our limbs. The most common use of strap (in active postures) is to extend our arms for forward folds and binds,” says Aditi. “Props help me to take a step back and focus on form instead of focusing just on the deepest possible variation of a posture. But also I do use props to help me to get into postures I would not otherwise be able to as well as for therapeutic and restorative postures.”
What is the value of purchasing a real yoga strap?
“You can certainly use something else – I often suggest the belt from your bathrobe,” says Aditi. “That said, a yoga strap is worth purchasing. It’s never going to be too short or too long, it has the appropriate buckle and you won’t have to worry about washing it every day after it has touched your foot.” Kristin has seen other stand-ins in class–”a long thin towel rolled up lengthwise can adequately stand in for a yoga strap when it comes to extending the reach of the arms in certain poses”–but also recommends purchasing a real strap for a better result.
Where will I feel the benefits of using a yoga strap?
“There are SO many ways to use a yoga strap,” says Aditi. “I personally use it most for supta padangustasana, a supine hamstring stretch. It’s a wonderful and safe way to activate and warm up the legs and it’s so healthy for the lower back as well.” Kristin points out that that hamstring stretch is key for runners and cyclists especially. “It’s so easy to lie down on your back and put a foot in the strap to stretch the hamstrings regularly and with good form.”
When in class should you expect use a yoga strap?
“Any kind of bind gets easier with a strap,” says Aditi. “It can also be used to draw the arms closer together in shoulder stand, to catch the back foot and draw it towards your head in a king pigeon pose, and many other ways.” Kristin will bring it out for a few other poses as well. “I also use it to open the leg out to the side or across my body. I also love to hold the strap out in front of me while seated or standing and open my shoulders by lifting my arms up and back with the strap between my hands shoulder width apart. The strap is great for cow face pose arms as well. I also love using the strap in dancers pose and deeper backbends where I can’t catch my foot easily.”
Why would an advanced yogi use a yoga strap?
“In more advanced yoga postures such as forearm balance, handstand, shoulder hand, a yoga strap looped around the upper arms can help keep the shoulder girdle activated and help with coming in to and holding these advanced arm balances longer,” says Kristin. That holds true in her own practice as well. “As a professional yogi who’s been teaching and practicing since the 90s, I still use props in my practice to help me with alignment or to deepen a pose. Just like a runner and cyclist needs a good pair of specialized shoes to help them perform better, yoga props can enhance a yoga practice in the same way no matter what your level.”
You can purchase the Peloton Yoga strap and other Peloton Yoga accessories by clicking this link.